Obscenity, were there such, would be such that no one, not even at the very core of the self, could escape it.

The secret, were there such, would be such that no one, not even its safekeeper, could betray it.


Assume for a moment the task of imagining a fanlike formation, a round of figures, of situations, unconnected and, if possible, without overt sexual connotation. Then gather these points of reference the way children play cat’s cradle, that you may observe the enigmatic and modern shape of obscenity as it emerges. It is a shape much vaster than the one already familiar to us; it is, quite simply, the prostitution of an illusion, the metaphor in a state of collapse; it double-checks all truths and blackmails all that is visible. Our obscenity is no longer the hidden, filthy mien of that which can be seen, it is the abjection of the visible. Stupidity, foolishness, insanity, violence––these were the obscenities of a bourgeois world committed to the enlightened judgement of criticism. Ours is the obscenity of a systematized universe; our obscenity is the mirror of our technologies, not only the obscenity of sex, but of information, of microbiology, of networks––to the extent where all components vie to break into the constellation of the secret. Our obscenity is no longer palpable, it is transparent; it stretches past limits over the entire breadth of our communicational world. It is a cold obscenity, a bleached obscenity, bereft of lubricity, of sensuality, of inhibition or perversity; it corresponds to the insubstantiality of the real, and to its nullity.

A hyperrealist exhibition at Beaubourg

There were statues here, in other words not sculptures exactly, but mannequins, altogether realistic, flesh-colored, completely naked, in positions neither provocative nor pornographic, without equivocation, utterly banal. It was an instance of a naked body, immediate, meaning nothing and saying nothing, but that was simply there. That very fact provoked the viewer to a kind of stupefaction––one stood there completely fascinated and, so to speak, dumbfounded. People’s reactions were interesting: they were leaning forward trying to see something, pores of skin, pubic hairs, anything, but there was nothing to see. Some people event wanted to touch, to experience the reality of the bodies, but of course these efforts were in vain since everything that could possibly be there had been there to begin with. It wasn’t even an instance of trompe l’oeil. When the eye is “fooled,” one entertains oneself by trying to figure out the means of trickery, and even when trickery is not the point there is always a guessing game of sorts inherent in the esthetic and tactile pleasures that form procures you. Here there was nothing other than the extraordinary technique by which the artist had managed to extinguish all signs of divination. Not even the shadow of an illusion remained beyond the accuracy of those little hairs. There was nothing left to see: that is why people were leaning over, approaching and sniffing this cadaverlike hypersimilitude, spectral in its credulity, hallucination on platitude. They leaned over in order to certify this stupefying phenomenon: an image in which there was nothing to see. The obscenity is there: in the fact that there was nothing to see. It isn’t a sexual obscenity, it is an obscenity of accuracy––the order of the real––itself. The viewer wasn’t leaning forward out of sexual curiosity, but in order to verify skin texture, the texture of the infinitely real. Perhaps this is, quite precisely, the true contemporary sexual act: to verify to the point of vertigo the useless objectivity of things.

The different levels of the atrocity

A DC-10 crashed in the forest of Ermenonville in 1976. Over three hundred and forty people were shredded into some twelve thousand pieces. This in itself has been accomplished in other societies through other, less accidental, bloodthirstier means. Our atrocity, the one that distinguishes us from all others, is the act of gathering the pieces and running them through a computer to establish the identity of the dead. A matter of insurance claims and probates, to be sure, but more than that: obsessive restitution.

This––using the technology of synthesis to piece together the spoils of the death technology––this is what characterizes us. Processing the flayed bodies of Ermenonville is of the same order as reconstructing the mummy of Ramses in a specialized laboratory. Our atrocity is exactly the inverse of that of earlier centuries. It consists of eradicating blood and cruelty with objectivity. A bleached atrocity, programmatic, bereft of blood, like the blank torture of desensorializing cells.

Sentimental cannibalism

Issei Sagawa meets Renée in a mall. They have dinner together. Later, Issei buys a book of poetry and asks Renée, “white and soft-skinned Occidental,” to return with him to record a few poems. On this Thursday, June 11, the young woman sets herself up in front of the tape recorder and begins to read. He “was surprised that she didn’t feel anything.” Muffled by the silencer, the report he fires into the base of her cranium is recorded on the tape. It is followed by the dull thud of her upper torso falling over the open book.

Issei stretches out Renée’s corpse, tries to bite her, but the skin is too resilient. With a kitchen knife, he cuts into “the parts he likes best”––buttocks, thighs––and sets about to eat a few raw morsels. Then he digs into breasts, lips, nose, genitals, calf muscles, all of which he eats, either raw or cooked in a skillet and seasoned with salt, pepper, and mustard. “While I was eating, I concentrated very hard on her, I tried to match her images to the pieces of meat. And it all tasted good to me because it was her.” “So as not to forget,” he took about thirty color Polaroids of the slicing process and of the meal, playing the tape of her reading the poems over and over again “instead of music.”

The amorous repast was to last two days. Then Issei proceeded to cut up the rest of Renée with a hatchet and an electric knife, throw out her clothes, personal effects, and entrails in various garbage cans, pack the mutilated body into two valises, call a cab, and head for the park.

Professing undying love, Issei Sagawa lay down on a bench and fell asleep.

Playboy pictures
Are you attracted to them?

Yes, but not because of the look of seduction. There isn’t even a look. Looking requires that an object conceal and reveal itself, that an object suggest its own disappearance at any given moment, which is why the act of looking contains a kind of oscillating motion. This naked body does not play hide and seek; like any ordinary object, it is there to begin with. It is very simply there, without any spark of potential absence, in that state of radical disillusion which is pure presence. And even this has nothing to do with presence, since real presence implies absence. All the eye beholds here is a piece of ass, which has nothing to do with the formation on an image.

But how is this not an image? Why is this a matter of a piece of ass and not of the image of a piece of ass?

It is different from a work in which certain parts are visible while others are not, in which the visible parts render the others invisible: in which a kind of rhythm of emergence and secrecy sets in, a flotation line between the imaginary and the ostensible. Here everything has equal visibility, everything shares the same space without depth.

But what then is the fascination of these pictures?

It is their disembodiment, it is the esthetic of disembodiment that Octavio Paz speaks of. Their fascination is perhaps nothing but the disembodied passion of a look without an image. For a long time now our mediated spectacles have been crossing the border into the realm of stupefaction. This stupefaction is what is obscene, it is the glazed extreme of the body, the glazed extreme of sex, it is an empty scene where nothing happens and yet one that fills the viewfinder. It might as easily be the stage for information, or for politics, as for sex! Nothing happens and yet we are saturated with it.

One could say about obscenity what Brecht said about order and disorder. Disorder is when objects are not in their designated places. Order is when in the designated place there is nothing (or else too much, infinitely too much!). The designated place is still there, but things aren’t any more. The scene is empty.

Do we not desire this fascination?

I don’t know; there is perhaps some general aspiration, some sort of collective vertigo of neutralization, a forward escape into the obscenity of pure and empty form, unintelligible form, wherein the visible is both lessened and degraded. How is one to know? Obscenity and the indifference that characterizes it can become escapist values––one can in fact take note elsewhere of the formation of new rituals that are rituals of transparency.

To resume once again, the fascination of the pictures is the fascination of being seduced by a dead object, it is the magic of disappearance, and this particular magic can be found just as easily in pornographic images as in Modern art, where the prevailing obsession has been to literally not be viewable, to defy any and all possibilities of visual seduction.

Our obscenity, our pornography does not stem from sexual lust, it stems from this paralyzed frenzy of the image. In discussing sex no one can say whether it has been liberated or not, whether it is being consummated more often now or not, whether the gross national sexual product has increased or not. One can, however, say that solicitation and greed have created out of it disproportionately inflated images. These have become our real sex objects, the objects of our desire, and it is this substitution, this confusion (between desire and its materialized equivalent in images, not only sexual desire, but cognitive desire and its materialized equivalent in “information,” the desire to dream and its materialized equivalent in all the Disneylands of the worlds, the desire for space and its materialized equivalent in the programmed movement of “two-weeks’ paid vacation,” the desire for recreation and its programmed equivalent in home video equipment, etc.) that gives rise to the obscenity in our culture.

It is in this promiscuity and this ubiquity of images, in this viral contamination of things by images, that our obscenity exists. And there is no limit to this, because images (today we generally prefer photographic details of a painting to the painting itself) are not animal species governed by internal codes (the human species used to be governed by such codes but there is a possibility that this is changing). Nothing preserves images from unbounded proliferation precisely because images are not sexually engendered, images know neither sex nor death, and it is perhaps because of this that we are obsessed with them, in this, a period of retrenchment affecting both sex and death. We are perhaps daydreaming through images about the immorality of protozoa, who boundlessly proliferate through more contiguousness and know nothing other than an asexual momentum.

Male strippers

Even at male strip shows it is still the women that are watched; we see the public of women, with their avid faces, as a united sex. They are more obscene devouring the anatomy of the male than if they were dancing naked before us. They are obscene because of the sexual spillage evident in their faces––a kind of monstrous extroversion––but even more because they are exercising their right to revenge on the occasion of male nudity, and rights are obscene, particularly the right to pleasure. Getting your due may be fair but is also lascivious.

No one has any right to pleasure, any more than to air or to life––the very notion is absurd. Let us leave that form of legalism to the workplace and to the various categories of slavery, to which alone any valid laws apply. Already today, one’s lifetime has been rendered obscene by the right to leisure time. Now sex is being rendered obscene by the right to one’s sexuality. Obscenity thus lies in wait for all things through its legalistic retribution system.

The right to joy and the right to suffering (which will soon follow) are inaugurating a culture of hysteria and apostasy. The ecstasy of these strip-joint customers can now be added to the ecstasy of the female saints of Lisieux, for the same form of voracious religiosity is directed at the male sex as to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

A body onstage is never obscene. The obscenity is in the cannibalistic expressions of these women absorbed as they are in their symbolic revenge and in the acute humiliation of the male. Men who go to female strip shows and peep shows are touching in their contemplation––they pay a confused homage, through the act of looking, to the perfection of a body that is not missing any parts. This is so because mean really don’t believe in all that nonsense about the castrated woman. They dream, they desire, they know that woman is a perfect being who will always be complete. And the gaze they carry to her nakedness is witness to this: if the female body can thus offer itself naked for all the world to see, without inhibition and with total ease, it must be a sign of great power (what man could do it?).

Female strip-joint customers, however, come to demolish with their eyes, they come in desperation to behold, and therein the castration. To tell the truth, they alone believe in it. And therein they are obscene, therein the spectacle is obscene, because the looking has no other issue than simply to turn back toward women as castrates, these women desperate in their castration, these women now the very sullied subjects of castration, as opposed to pure object, naked, with all powers of illusion, on the pornographic stage of the body.

Female mud wrestling

The female in Quest for Fire. Goldfinger.

Sweet Movie: the woman in liquid chocolate.

Native women in mud masks.

Blacks with gleaming skins. Greased bodies on beaches

Lubricity is that which is lubricated. That which slides. That which resembles a sex that has emerged from a sex, or a child emerging from its mother’s placenta. In these instances skin can in some way approximate the interior spectacle of the body, can approximate slimy origins, the humidity of sex. Anything dry, anything erect is never obscene; what is obscene is what is humid, visceral, sticky. A sweat body begins to offer erotic repulsion and attraction––the body’s urge to cloak itself in its secretions.

It takes but a tiny drop of water trickling down a body, or down a smooth stone, to render it erotic. Anything that slides evokes joy, even the wind. Why not oil or mud? It is life itself to give the body over to its liquid form, it is the contrary of Goldfinger, whose victim dies transfixed in a golden casing. But the liquid should never be too liquid. It is the viscosity of mud that makes one rejoice; even one’s glance can slide and make itself viscous. Slipperiness would thus be the source of all pleasure, and the incision and the source of all sensation.

Peep show, strip tease, exhibition

These are not all instances of a woman’s prostituted body being victimized by the sadistic or obsessed eyes of the viewer––that would be insufferable––but are, on the contrary, instances in which the body holds the respect and the desire of the other, and this not by any shameful dissimulation, but by its very exhibition, even to the extent of flagrant excess. One would have to analyze prostitution itself as an example of this sacred effect which holds desire in respect and the world in suspense.

The body exhibited with such indifference and ease is the very closest possibility that we have of existing as pure objects––which is everyone’s dream. It is this dream that men pursue––deliverance from otherness––this is what they try to seize with their vague stares: the body’s indifference to being looked at, the body’s victory over the stare of the viewer. At this sort of show, the audience alone is in a position of virtual obscenity. Which it knows all too well––since it tries to offset this through sarcasm, through an affected indifference which tries to equal the sumptuous indifference of the prostituted body.

Obscenity’s revenge is always double-edged: it’s never where you think its is, it’s always there where there are those thinking of it.

The Obscenario

One day, in a seminar on seduction regularly attended by a physically and verbally handicapped man who nevertheless spoke constantly and specifically about seduction, thereby causing a chill to permeate the auditorium with every interjection, a beautiful and feminist young woman arrived to wage war against seduction, which to her is a sexist ideology. She sat down next to the handicapped man and throughout her (aggressive) argument leaned tenderly toward him, slipping a lit cigarette in and out of his mouth to enable him to smoke. With the rhythm of someone tending a pipe, she had him suck his butt as though she were a nursing mother, for this poor wreck of a male, who served as crutch and alibi, as she vituperated against males who think only of seduction. Beautiful, provocative girl doling out her little revenge through a poor, impotent polio case. And him glowing painfully with the pleasure of this unexpected rape.

Ah yes, the roles should have been reversed, but in what sense? She was making me “smoke” too with the naughty pleasure that she was getting out of this scene and that I found echoed in the self-contained joy of the bland cripple who hated me from the start and from whom I had never been able to conceal my revulsion––but this new revulsion was still worse because I found myself identifying with him as he underwent the girl’s symbolic caresses; she was soliciting me as she practically masturbated him before my eyes, she was saying to me: “Look, if you were a monogoloid, an impotent, you would have the right to my favors, I am raping you through him and there’s nothing you can do about it.” (Later, when I ran into her by chance at a party, she started to cruise me shamelessly––but I would have preferred, for a seminar, to have been that cripple between whose lips she placed the cigarette.)

She did not know him at all. It was a stroke of genius to place herself next to him and to use him as a foil. It was obscene, but it had genius. Without him she would have been just a ridiculous type of feminist.

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Femininity depends deeply on secrecy, masculinity on obscenity. This makes it such that repressed femininity is atrocious (it is simply repudiated, and can no longer act as a secret) but it also makes it such that femininity liberated, triumphant is odious (it then takes on all masculine traits, and thus all the traits of a directive).

Masculinity has nothing to do with a secret game; it is not made for ambiguity, it is unbearable when disguised, whereas femininity in disguise is sublime (Victor/Victoria). Masculinity is only truly itself in its obscene self-evidence, it really only exists as an erection, and is therefore always a slightly comic spectacle (whereas femininity through the game of absences is, like a secret, rather ironic).

Stations of the cross for an ironic pornography

An ironic pornography would be one where femininity revives, beyond the heavy burden of liberation, without ideology, and without sexual hysteria as well; in seductive and joyous provocation, in a form of free lustful exhibition, with an ironic plot about sex without desire. It would counter that which is libidinal, the allegory of the body; it would be the game of the body within the limits of pornography but without ever succumbing to it. . . It would perhaps involve a new form of allusive pleasure, a new form of exhibition without pretensions, a new form of life perversion, transparent, but without pretense, narcissistic, but without real identity.

“I desire you” is obscene

“You please me” is more subtle––it makes of the other not the object of desire, but rather the grammatical subject of pleasure.

In other times, pleasing and pleasure were able to substitute for desire. But these light strategies gave way to the heavy, subjective, and obscene economy of desire. In these tormented times, desire has replaced pleasure, and it often erases from joy the very idea of pleasure, which is to please.

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Vélizy. The shepherds of the Pyrenees who have recently been intruded upon by optical wires, hertz signals, cable TV. These people, did they really think they were living in society, with their neighbors, their beasts, their histories? Scandalous condition of underdeveloped communication, monstrous deprivation of all that good informational substance, barbarous solitude wherein they were not able to express themselves and interface . . . .

Before all of this, they were let alone. When they were pursued, it was to go to town, to factories, or to war. Why do we need them if they need nothing? To what do they have to bear witness? They will be forced to, if necessary, in televised reports and video documentation of their lifestyles: the new terror, not Orwell’s 1984, but that of the 21st Century, is right here––the new negritude is here, the new involuntary service.

There is already a martyrology of information. The Bretons who were all of a sudden given television after Vélizy stations were dynamited. You’ve got cables, you’ve got targets. The new guinea pigs, the new hostages. Crucified on the altar of information, on the pillory of their consoles. Informacuted live. All of this to make them acknowledge all the good being heaped upon them, to extort their vows of sociability, of their at long last being “normalized,” assimilated humanoids.

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We’ve discovered the anxiety molecule! Hooray! François Jacob: “The cerebral locus of pleasure is situated right next to the locus of discontent.” Wonderful biological verification of the ambivalence principle! “This would have made Freud happy,” he says. (Between us, and to follow his delirious logic, if the ambivalence of things like love and hate, pain and pleasure, exists, then everything should be situated in one and the same center––for that is the secret of ambivalence––not merely stupid juxtapositions.) But the compulsion to localize, the compulsion to pin down all functions of biology and to isolate them does not encompass ambiguity, ambivalence, or the reversibility of things that aren’t and can never be categorized. Psychophysiology of the brain is obscene in its functional oversimplification, the genetic code is obscene is cybernetic oversimplification.

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Obscenity is a desperate attempt at seduction. Its only mistake is to try to seduce with crude evidence of verity, and not with subtle use of available signs. Obscenity has it that showing alone suffices, that forcing one to look suffices. Obscenity is a vulgar offering, it is fundamentally naive and sentimental in terms of what it considers to be the material truth of things, without taking into account their complexity and the subtlety of appearances. Obscenity is simultaneously an effusion and a provocation.

Provocation is obscene in what it calls seduction. It says: I know that you want to be seduced, and I’m going to seduce you. There is nothing worse than betraying this secret rule.

There is nothing less seductive than a provocative smile or gesture since such things presume that one would not know how to be seduced quite naturally and that blackmail or statements of purpose are somehow necessary: “Let yourself be seduced . . . .”

Any form of forced solicitation, but also any kind of forced solicitude, is obscene. Thus solidarity is obscene and provocative, for it too says: I know that you need me and I’m going to help you.

All gestures of solidarity are stained with this indiscretion, with this indelicacy toward the misery of others. One knows about the contempt that hides behind charity, one holds in low regard those who hide behind fellowship.

The social bond is without doubt also covered by the rule of the secret game, and thus it becomes the same contradiction and the same obscenity when it pretends to disclose, reveal, tell, and promote that which is social as when it tries to institutionalize seduction (or for that matter truth). Only lumpen effects of socialization can emerge from this.

Thus madness is rendered obscene through therapy, the cripple becomes obscene because of the care given him (crippled is beautiful). Obscenity is never the cruelty of evil, but the sentimentality of concern. Obscenity is quintessentially pity, immodest condescension. Indifference to violence is cruel, but there is an equal violence in weeping over the victims, because commiseration is obscene.

Cruelty as it occurs in life does not reach its victims in their sovereignty. Pity, on the other hand, or fellowship, touches them precisely there, in what is most precious to them, most inhuman, in what is both cruel and loving vis-à-vis themselves: in their pride.

Cruelty goads man to what he is capable of being, pity goads man into being guilty about what he is.

If solidarity isn’t sharing sovereignty, if solidarity is, as it so often is these days, merely sharing in a collective misery or fate, solidarity is itself even less than a form of abjection.

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Police in civilian clothes––young––leather jackets––hanging out with uninformed colleagues, at a demonstration. We support the concept of road signs when it comes to sexual distinctions, or to fashion, or to the corruption and disarray of our values, but we don’t support it when it comes to the realm of order. A cop disguised as a civilian is truly obscene, corrupt; the disguise itself humiliates you.

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Black is the embarrassment of White. The obscenity of blackness gambles and wins against the obscenity of whiteness.

Marvelous Idi Amin Dada, who has himself carried triumphant by four English diplomats, whose ambassador is received by the Pope. Marvelous Emperor Jean-Bédel Bokassa, eating up little black babies, lavishing diamonds upon the Western dignitary! Nowhere else as in Africa does the concept of power undergo parody in as Ubu-esque a fashion. The West will be hard pressed to rid itself of this generation of simian and prosaic despots, born of the monstrous crossing of the jungle with the shining values of ideology.

Let us remember the rulers, let us remember the lumpen-bureaucrats of the bush who go home at night to the forest to mime their leader, in epileptic and frothing trances, the white employee, the white chief of Abidjan, let us remember the locomotive! All of them Bokassas, all of them Amin Dadas. Incredible, no hope for that continent. All the Peace Corps and other charitable institutions will go under there. The power of scorn, Africa’s contempt for its own authenticity.

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Politicians––power itself becomes degraded because politicians are the incarnation of the deepest contempts that people have for their own lives. Their degradation is in the image of those dominated, and therein they find some way to rid themselves of that image. One has to have a politician’s frame of mind to assume the degradation of power and to rid others of it. This very thing kills politicians, but they get their revenge by passing on to others the corpse of power. This ancient hereditary function has never failed to be true to itself.

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They say that stupidity is obscene. No. Because stupidity is never certain, and obscenity is perhaps the triumph of intelligence. Thus, a silly game where one is supposed to bring the dumbest person one knows: the person who brings the dumbest guest wins.

Of course assumptions about intelligence reverse themselves. It is hardly likely that an intelligent person won’t say a stupid thing in the course of an evening; it is also hardly likely that a stupid person won’t say something that makes sense, or at least simply keep quiet. All it takes is one such instance for the “intelligent” one to appear foolish, and to be thought of as the dumb “guest” rather than the host. Summoned, exorcized by intelligence which serves as mirror, stupidity is once again seductive, and intelligence is odious.

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How great it feels to disappear in the bosom of the masses! Even better than flipping into transcendence (God) is to bask in immanence. The masses. They are the ideal situation for an individual to disappear (even if lamenting alienation and lost identity). Weren’t the masses invented for this very purpose?

In any case, this strategy, this irony of the masses is mine and nothing more. It is my fantasy to disappear into television’s cold blue light, to disappear behind that screen, forever protected from it, because buried at the heart of this obscenity, blue also, sometimes black and white, I can lie in wait from the bottom of this silence for the blinding signal of a definitive event.

Political obscenity.

The Moscow airport. Six hours of waiting. Bureaucratic stupidity loses all limits from the moment institutional regulations or objective control systems estheticize it as part of the landscape, and it becomes elevated to power through cold war rhetoric. The perpetual cold war that every state wages against its citizens is particularly odious because it is adopted and artificially maintained; mere shadows of deeply rooted stupidity have now become the sole conduits for life in society. The same goes for the simulation of military power at the planetary level of cold war. An entire society sent into space with its masks of military power, an entire civilian society exorcized in its mask of bureaucracy.

Moribund society, stopped cold at the appearance of death, on a final stage, which it cultivates like a madman blind to his own reality.

But in addition: Soviet society survives because of this bureaucratic comedy, because of this obscene comedy. Confronted with its ideological objectives and its presented goals, Soviet society would immediately collapse––that’s what we always hope in the West, but in vain, because that society lasts, and if it lasts, it’s because of a collective complicity that revolves around the comedy of ideology, the comedy of bureaucracy. We must never forget this essential given: that a society, whatever its structure, exists primarily because of a collective complicity in scorning its own model. And this complicity is common both to State and to citizens, to the dominators and those dominated. This changes the entire analysis of power.

It is because of this denial of the model social contract––as it is joined to complicity––that we are saved. There’s the secret rule of the social bond. And it is the perversity of those enlightened with political reason of any stripe that makes them want to abolish this secret, break this secret complicity, and force all that is social to come to the surface, in a visible operation, in the obscenity of the obvious.

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There is a kind of miracle of obscenity in the faded splendor of artificial paradises, as long as they are scaled to their particular culture. In America, space gives scope even to the blandness of suburbs, funky towns, to the insignificance and laughable ease of life. Miracle of ice cream, of whiskey, of the steak house and the desert motel: prodigy of ease mixed up with the fatal quality of the desert. Miracle of obscenity, truly American: total availability, the transparency of all functions in space, that remain indigestible in its vast expanse and that can only be exorcised through speed.

The Italian miracle is the miracle of the scene.

The American miracle is the miracle of the obscene.

Luxury of the senses against deserts of insignificance.

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The obscenity of sexual liberation, the pornography of information, of participation, of free expression, of living well, etc. Happily we are only playing the comedy of obscenity, just as other societies play the comedy of ideology, just as the Italian plays the comedy of confusion, of anarchy and terrorism, just as we watch ourselves play the media game of the “alienated” and “prostituted” female body (which really brings us to a real obscenity, the laws of repression)––if all of this were true, it would be unbearable. If all of this were true, we would really be stuck in obscenity, in other words stuck in the naked truth, primary, without artifice but not without pretension––the made pretension of things proclaiming their authenticity.

Happily, we’re not there yet, for when push comes to shove, as always, things reverse themselves, and this ability to reverse protects their secret.

In the midst of the orgy, a man whispers into a woman’s ear: “WHAT ARE YOU DOING AFTER THE ORGY?”